Officials expect more cougars sightings in Northwest

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BEND, Ore. — Officials say cougar sightings are becoming more common in the Northwest as populations of people and the big cats continue to grow.

The Bend Bulletin reports a 135-pound (61-kilogram) cougar was killed in southwest Bend, Oregon, last week after authorities determined it posed a danger to human safety.

Oregon wildlife biologist Corey Heath says the state is home to about 6,500 cougars.

Heath says cougars usually avoid people, but the possibility of an easier meal can lure the cats into urban areas, where deer tend to be calmer and less wary of potential predators.

David Stoner, a research professor at Utah State University, says the increase in sightings can be attributed to the growing number of people living and recreating in forested mountain areas home to the big cats.

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